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CBS Evening News With Katie Couric

CBS News News/Business. Katie Couric. The latest world and national news. New. (HD) (CC) (Stereo)

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00:30:00

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Couric 15, Us 7, U.s. 4, Afghanistan 4, China 3, Cbs News 3, Katie Couric 3, Washington 2, New York 2, Atlanta 2, New Orleans 2, United Airlines 2, Armen Keteyian 2, Byron Pitts 2, Bob Orr 2, Katie 2, Karzai 2, Cbs 2, Anthony 2, Hamid Karzai 2,
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  CBS    CBS Evening News With Katie Couric    CBS News  News/Business. Katie Couric. The latest  
   world and national news. New. (HD) (CC) (Stereo)  

    November 19, 2009
    6:30 - 7:00pm EST  

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don't forget, wusa9.com is always on. have a good night. >> couric: tonight, another major step toward health care reform. there are now just two competing plans. what's in them and what they'd mean for you. i'm katie couric. also tonight, an air traffic nightmare. a computer glitch in salt lake city leaves travelers stranded at airports all over the country. the government says united airlines and other big companies dumped their pension responsibilities on taxpayers, even as executives got huge retirement packages. and the must-have, can't-find toy of the holiday season. captioning sponsored by cbs this is the "cbs evening news" with katie couric.
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>> couric: and good evening, everyone. it's down now to two health care reform bills, the one the house passed two weeks ago and the one senate majority leader harry reid put out today, the first test vote will happen on saturday. reid hasn't locked up the 60 votes he needs to get it through. his bill would extend coverage to 94% of americans, the house bill, 96%. nancy cordes tells us the major difference-- cost. ( applause ). >> reporter: exuberant senate democrats hailed their long-awaited final health care bill today. like the house bill, this senate version would impose an immediate ban on insurance industry abuses, such as dropping customers with preexisting conditions. both bills would create a government-run public option for americans without insurance, though the senate version would allow individual states to opt out of the program if they want to. >> for the first time, we're going to allow the american consumers to be involved in a biers' market when it comes to insurance. >> reporter: compared to the
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house bill, the senate version is a relative bargain. $848 billion over 10 years, compared to more than $1& trillion. that's partly because the house bill expands medicaid more dramatically, and provides more generous tax credits to low-income americans to help them buy insurance. >> the key difference between the senate bill and the house bill is the senate bill really focuses more on controlling the cost of health care. that is its strength. the key focus of the house bill is really making sure that every individual has security, that people can afford their medical expenses. >> reporter: to help pay for reform, the senate bill would heavily tax high-cost insurance plans, impose a 5% tax on elective cosmetic surgery, and slightly raise medicare payroll taxes for high-earning americans. the house bill, on the other hand, levies a hefty 5% surtax on millionaires. the senate bill did does not go as far as the house did to restrict the use of public funds to pay for abortions.
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that will set up a fight down the road. for now, though, senate democratic leaders appear increasingly confident they can win over uncommitted moderates and they'll have to because they cannot count on any republican votes. >> this is the same turkey that you saw in august and it's not going to taste any better in november. >> reporter: the first big hurdle for this new senate bill comes on saturday when the majority leader will hold a rare weekend vote on whether to begin debate on the bill. he's hoping that vote will provide some momentum for the bill before all the senators scatter for the thanksgiving recess. katie. >> couric: to be continued. nancy cordes on capitol hill tonight. thanks, nancy. it was certainly no holiday for travelers at many of the nation's busiest airports today. a computer glitch forced hundreds of flights to be delayed or canceled. and now mark strassmann tells us, members of congress are demanding an investigation into a system that they thought had just been fixed. >> oh, my god!
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i'm glad i'm not going there! >> reporter: they were stuck from newark... >> delayed, delayed, canceled. >> reporter: .. . to atlanta, cancellations and delays of up to six hours, especially east of the mississippi. >> treading water is basically what we're doing. we're not accomplishing anything. >> reporter: passengers like scott chamberlain held it together as america's system to keep them moving fell apart. >> this is all the result of the f.a.a. melted down. >> reporter: for four hours this morning, the f.a.a.'s computer flight plan system, called naden failed. nadin proses and organizes plans for thousands of flights in the air at any given time, their flight numbers, destinations, and altitudes. but a computer glitch ruined the morning. controllers had to enter the information manually and were overwhelmed. >> it's very, very disruptive to the system. it's the only way to keep the airplanes moving. and it's a pretty big scram blel. >> reporter: this was the third major meltdown of the system in the last three years. today, it was difficult. next week, the start of the busy
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holiday travel season, would have been worse. >> we really are going to test our system again and if we're not ready, we're going to see this sort of thing on a regular basis. >> reporter: since nadin failed last year, the f.a.a. has upgraded it. but after today's failure, apparently still not enough. >> i've gone ahead and rebooked. >> reporter: chime and his wife rebooked to san francisco. the problem is they really wanted sacramento, but the flight there was canceled. mark strassmann, cbs news, atlanta. >> couric: to new orleans now. a major court ruling there. for the first time the federal government is being held liable for at least some of the flooding. a federal court has award nearly $720,000 to a group of property owners and chief national correspondent byron pitts tells us that could open the floodgates to billions in damage awards. >> reporter: homeowners in new orleans' lower ninth ward and st. bernard's parish called the
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landmark ruling sweet vindication. >> i'm happy, very happy because it was in our favor. >> this is a shame. >> reporter: lifelong residents anthony and lucille franz lost their home built by anthony's grandmother in the early 1920s. submerged under 10 feet of water after hurricane katrina, the couple had little left to salvage. >> that salt water which is high enough to ruin everything. >> reporter: in their lawsuit, the franzs point the finger of blame at this-- the mississippi river gulf outlet, known locally as "go." the 76-mile shipping channel was built in the 1960s by the army corps of engineers. the lawsuit contends the corps' neglectful operation and maintenance ofgo led to much of the flooding that ravaged the crescent city. originally built as a 600-foot backdoor water way between the gulf and port of new orleans, the court ruled years of neglect caused it wyatten out to 2,000
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feet in places -- in effect, intensifying the waves and severely damaging the levees. the government argued the corps is immune from liability for any flood damage and some legal experts say it has a strong case on appeal. >> as we get higher up the appellate ladder, the judges are going to intervene and basically save the army from having to pay this-- this lawsuit and the potential for other lawsuits down the road. >> reporter: still, if the decision is upheld, it could potentially pave the way for more lawsuits in the thousands, forcing the federal government to pay billions to property owners, property owners like the franzs, who simply can't rebuild. >> it would cost too much to-- to build it over again. >> reporter: for now, they live in a small apartment in the twilight of their lives, the court's decision is just the first step on a long road to recovery. byron pitts, cbs news, new york. >> couric: overseas, hamid karzai was sworn in today to a second term as president of afghanistan.
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karzai's been accused of voter fraud and running a crooked government, but he promised today to prosecute corrupt officials and he said afghanistan will control its own security within five years. secretary of state hillary clinton was at the inauguration and called karzai's speech a good start. >> today's inauguration oppose a real window of opportunity for a new exact between the afghan government and its people and for a new chapter in the partnership between afghanistan and the international community. and must seize this moment. >> couric: back in washington, white house aides said president obama won't announce his new afghan strategy until after thanksgiving. lara logan is our chief foreign affairs correspondent. lara do u.s. officials and the afghan people believe that hamid karzai can effectively lead afghanistan and even unite it? >> reporter: well, what seems to have happened is karzai's popularity from 2001 has-- you know, he doesn't enjoy the same faith and trust in him that he
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once had. u.s. officials were very critical publicly for a while there, but they seem to have realized not only is he their best option but he's their only option. for the afghan people it's complicated. karzai has support bu but a grog number of people who despise him. >> couric: i know he has pledged to appoint highly qualified ministers to investigate and rule out graft and corruption. isn't that like the fox guarding the hen house? >> reporter: pretty much. one official said if karzai got rid of corruption in his government he would have to get rid of more than half the government overnight which isn't going to happen. he could take certain steps. his record so far is poor and many people don't believe him. >> couric: lara logan thank you so much as always for your perspective tonight. we appreciate it. turning to the massacre at fort hood, the pentagon launched an investigation into the shooting in which an army psychiatrist is accused of gunning down fellow soldiers. bob orr teals us the focus will
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be for the military to identify sources who might be a danger to others. >> reporter: defense secretary robert gates ordered the sweeping pentagon review. west, and former navy chief vern clark will lead the inquiry, asking can the military identify service members who are emerging threats? are personnel and medical programs sufficient? and can bases handle mass casualty events? >> the most important thing for us now is to find out what actually happened, put all the facts together, so that nothing like this ever happens again. >> reporter: meanwhile, military and f.b.i. investigators are still scrubbing the background of the suspect, major nadil hasan. sources say the evidence strongly suggests he acted alone, drawing inspiration from jihaddist web sites and e-mails. now investigators are looking at how critical warning signs were missed but the focus on hasan and his religion has fellow
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muslim soldiers concerned. of 1.4 million active duty service members, only 3400, less than 1%, identify themselves as muslims. >> don't want no backlash against muslims. it was a man that committed an act of violence with his own inner demon demons and charactet made him do such an act. >> reporter: the government is also worried about a backlash at a time when the military and intelligence agencies are actively recruiting in arab and muslim communities. this new ad campaign from the cia debuted last night in dearborn, michigan, one of america's largest middle eastern communities. >> we are ... we are. >> we are the cia. >> i think it's very important that the cia does get involved and does do a great effort to reach out to the middle eastern and muslim american community. >> reporter: officials stress the need for muslims and arabic speakers has never been greater. they're hoping the fort hood tragedy does not set book recruiting efforts. katie. >> couric: bob orr thanks very much. in other news tonight, president obama is back at the white house
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following an eight-day, four-nation trip to asia. at his final stop he met with south korea's president and later spoke to u.s. troops. the president told them every american appreciates the job they're doing. and coming up next right here on the cbs evening news, is this fair? united airlines sticks you with the bill for their employee pensions while its executives get multi-million-dollar retirement packages?
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>> couric: taxpayers are not going to like this at all. a government report today says some corporate executives were getting very generous retirement packages, even as their can you remembers were sticking the rest of us with responsibility for their employee pension plans. sharyl attkisson follows the money. >> couric: at the very same time pensions were drying up for 122,000 united airlines workers, its top executives were cutting deals to make their own golden years comfortable and secure. ceo glenn tilton and two other top executives collected $7.6 million in retirement benefits in four years. and they earned a combined $55.5 million compensation with perks like a car and driver and country club memberships. that's one small sample of the outrage packed into a new gao
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report. it studied 10 of the largest companies to dump their underfunded pension plans into the laps of the federal pension benefit guarantee corporation, which is $22 million in the red. $11 billion in underfunding at the 10 firms affected 200,000 workers, their executives drew $350 million in compensation. reliance group insurance underfunded its plan by $121 million as top managers earned $70 million compensation. chief executives robert steinberg and george baker used the corporate plane and helicopter for extensive personal travel, including family trips to china, greece, and hawaii. if the pension benefit guarantee fund can't get out of the red, it's taxpayers who will have to pick up the shake. >> i think we should say when a pension plan is in danger being dumped on the u.s. taxpayers, the executives can't make big compensation until they fix the plan. >> reporter: a united spokesman says the millions in
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retirement benefits that ceo tilton has gotten replace what he lost when he left his previous company and have nothing to do with united's pension problems. meanwhile, many united retirees are having to live on less. pensions that default to the guarantee fund are capped. one pilot, for example, saw his monthly payment shrink to one-third of what he'd been promised. sharyl attkisson, cbs news, washington. >> couric: and then there are people who are trying to survive without a job. the government reported today that more than half a million americans joined the line for unemployment benefits this past week. that's the same number as joined the week before. meanwhile, oprah winfrey is giving up her job. her production company said today she'll end her talk show in 2011 after 25 seasons on the air. winfree will make the official announcement on her program tomorrow. and coming up next, a telephone scam. how a government says you may be getting ripped off.
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>> couric: chances are, you never noticed it, but on many telephone bills, among the fees and taxes is one for video relay services. now, they help people with hearing problems communicate electronically. companies that provide these services bill the government hundreds of millions of dollars a year. but now as chief investigative correspondent armen keteyian tells us, federal prosecutors say some of that money is winding up in the pockets of swinders are. >> reporter: for more than 30 million americans places like this video call center in
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rochest enew york, are nothing less than a lifeline to the outside world. it's here where each month thousands of hearing impaired people use sign language to communicate with translators over a computer link. those translators then speak for their deaf clients to anyone and everyone in the hearing world. for the deaf, it's a critical service. for others, it was a golden opportunity to commit fraud. today, the government cracked down. >> it's not going to be tolerated. it's outrageous and insidious. >> reporter: 26 people from seven companies in eight states that provide the translation service were indicted. they were charged with stealing tens of millions of dollars by submitting thousand of false and fraudulent claims to rip off a government fund that virtually everyone with a phone contributes to. >> taxpayers were paying for services that really weren't occurring. >occurring. >> reporter: the government alleges the scammers never took calls from hearing impaired people. instead, they just placed calls
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to listen to radio programs or podcasts. they never translated anything, but they did bill the government nearly $400 for every hour the employee was on the phone. prominent disabled rights attorney jeff rosen expressed disappointment at all the deception. >> and the fraud issue is something we're going to have to deal with. we can't allow that to diminish the access that deaf people have. >> reporter: the service began back in 1993, but in recent years, these type of calls have exploded, rising from about 100,000 minutes per month in 2004 to upwards of 9 million per month, generating an expected $800 million this year alone. >> the whole deaf community is harmed by those actions. but we will take responsibility in fixing that. >> reporter: as government makes clear, it's going to protect the service so liberating for the deaf from becoming a center of corruption. armen keteyian, cbs news, new york. >> couric: in los angeles
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today, heated protests over the price of education. hundreds of students swarmed the campus of ucla where state officials today approved a 32% system-wide hike in student fe fees. protestors blocked some of them from leaving following the vote. the increase will raise undergraduate tuition at california state colleges to about $10,000 a year, three times what it was a decade ago. and coming up next, the manufacturer says they're the perfect pet for your children-- they don't make a mess and they never die.
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>> couric: and finally tonight, if you're keeping track, there are 35 shopping days till christmas. now every year there seems to be one really hot toy. remember the cabbage patch kids and tickle me elmo? this year, anthony mason tells us the must-have toy is a pet for kids who want one and parents who don't. >> reporter: they were all oliviamented for her birthday. >> i felt really excited to get the zhu zhu pets because i just
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love them. >> reporter: they have names like numb-numbs, chunk, and pip-squeak. suddenly these robotic rodepartments top every little girl's holiday wish list. >> and now it's definitely the toy that everyone wants that you can't find. out of stock, out of stop... >> reporter: melissa post has been on a hampster hunt for weeks now for her daughter jessica. >> i called every toys "r" us, wal-mart and target within two hours of my home. >> reporter: zhu zhu pets retail for only $8, if you can find one. on the internet, they're going for much more. >> look. i squeak is only $40. >> reporter: the hottest holiday toy doesn't come from one of the megatoy makers. >> it is truly unbelievable. >> reporter: it is made by the little st. louis-based sepia company. >> we have six people here in st. louis, missouri, and about 25 people in shenzhen, china. >> reporter: sepia came up with the idea a year ago.
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toys "r" us helped them test market them in phoenix. >> we couldn't believe the numbers. when we first looked at them we thought there was something wrong with the computer because they were selling so rapidly we'd never seen anything like this. >> reporter: now fans are filling youtubes with their zhu zhu videos. one analyst projects holiday sales of $50 million, and sepia has cranked up three more factories in china to try to keep up with demand. there's no recipe for this kind of success, is there? >> no! no! if you sit out and tried to be methodical and say i am going to design the hottest toift year, i guarantee you, you would fail. >> reporter: electronic hampsters. who knew? this little company. that's who. >> couric: very cool for that company. that is the cbs evening news for tonight. i'm katie couric. thanks for watching. i'll see you tomorrow. until then you can find the latest news at cbsnews.com. good night. captioning sponsored by cbs captioned by media access group at wgbh
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access.wgbh.org federal investigators take down a major gang organization based in prince george's county. i'm scott broom at the federal courthouse in green belt where this afternoon, prosecutors announce that they have dethrowned a streeting gang called the latin kings. that's just one of 19 allege members of the latin kings indicted today. he's still on the run, but 18 others have been locked up. >> the sraoƔeuplt announced today strikes

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